Happy New Year to All of our Order of Franciscan Hermits Associates, Members, Family and Friends! It is with much LOVE and JOY that I send my prayers for your Happiness, Health and Spiritual Growth throughout 2019.
The Order of Franciscan Hermits now has over 2500 Associates and Members in over 87 countries worldwide who have committed to carrying out St. Francis' original Mission to "Rebuild the Church" and to Pray for World Peace. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT! Even though we are dispersed throughout the world, we are UNITED in this Mission and we each serve as anchors of Christ's Unconditional LOVE and COMPASSION - Welcoming Home EVERYONE who is estranged (for whatever reason) from our Family as One Body in Christ! I can picture the Globe with Bright Lights Shining as our Brothers and Sisters in 87 countries are keeping this important Franciscan Calling very much Alive, each and every day!
I would like to ask each of us to read the story of the "Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32) and keep this as our ongoing "theme" and lesson to live by as I see it as fully interconnected with our Mission to Rebuild the Church.
The Lord is constantly searching for us... yearning for us to "Come Home." We are called to be in a Loving Relationship with the Father.
We read that, "while [the Son] was yet at a distance," the Father, "saw him and had compassion, and RAN and embraced him and kissed him." Our Lord and Father in Heaven "RUNS" towards us... seeks us out every moment of every day with Joy and Enthusiasm to Welcome Us Home! He's NOT judging our past or counting all of the inheritance that we've squandered... NO! He's CELEBRATING our return HOME, for 'We were Dead and are now Alive; we were Lost, and now Found!"
Are WE enthusiastic about our Mission to Rebuild the Church through our prayer life and truly yearn for our reunification with our lost Brothers and Sisters? Are we too busy looking at the "speck" in our Brother's eye while we have a "plank" in our own???!!! (Matthew 7:1-5).
If we are truly to be Franciscans... Christians committed to "Love One Another as I have Loved You." we must welcome EVERYONE Home regardless of their sins and CELEBRATE their return, not looking at any of their transgressions, but EMBRACING them as the Father embraces us!
Look at these beautiful depictions of the Father Joyfully and Tenderly Embracing Us, Welcoming Us Back Home into His Care. We need to be the Prodigal Son... the Prodigal Father... Christ for One Another...
This isn't too much for us to accomplish... Remember... we're "Temples of the Holy Spirit!" We have the Gifts which allow us to LOVE... God... Our Neighbors... Ourselves and our Enemies. It is only our own reluctance to Accept One Another, just as they are on their Journey, that is keeping us from Living the Gospel Life.
As the song, "Hosea" says...
"Come back to ME with ALL your Heart... Don’t let FEAR keep us apart!
Long have I waited for your coming Home to Me and Living DEEPLY Our New Life!"
This is our invitation and our Mission as Franciscans and Christians. I pray that we persevere in our quest and I say it is NOW time to go HOME and CELEBRATE DEEPLY Our New Life!
PEACE, LOVE and JOY Always...
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words"... here we see our beloved founders Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi teaching us all we need to know about Living the Gospel Life....
Keep our eyes on Jesus and let His Light Illuminate our Soul!
As contemplatives, this picture can teach us a great deal about Prayer, Spirituality and the Transformation we can have with an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ... specifically the Christ Child.
Gaze at the picture... what do you see? What are the emotions Francis and Clare are expressing?
Francis is truly humbled, brought to utter Silence and simply IS ("BE"-s) in the Presence of the Lord. You can clearly see his Stigmata which shows how closely he identified with Christ, yet there is no pain because it is all worth enduring for the Christ Child who calls us closer to him. Clare is amazed, JOY-filled... stopped-in-time at the miracle of witnessing such Innocence and Purity. Both saints eyes are transfixed on THE ONE who Unites Us into ONE Body in Christ.
What about Jesus... what is he doing in the picture?
Jesus looks at Francis and Clare [US] asking, "Are You Ready?" It looks like he is going to tell them exactly what He needs... His plan for them. You can't have the encounter with Christ without the call to Action. So, while it is great having a contemplative vocation, it doesn't stop there! Christ always asks us to put our Faith into Action... to Feed the Hungry, Visit the Sick and Imprisoned... TO LOVE which is an Action Verb!
My Novice Master told us daily, "Go to the Silence... Go to the Silence"... this picture of the "Silent Night" is exactly what he was talking about. Allow the Silence... the Christmas PEACE and LOVE of the Christ Child fill us with JOY and there, we will find our vocation or calling... He will tell us exactly what He wants us to do. Every question or doubt we have ever had will be answered in that Silence. It will give us the strength and clarity to go forward to LIVE the Gospel Life, Loving and Serving One Another.
So, it is with a heart filled with Christmas PEACE, LOVE and JOY and that I send my prayers of Health, Happiness and Perseverance out to you and your families as we each Celebrate this "Silent Night" today, and EVERY day of our lives.
Pax et Bonum...
Founder & Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
My Dear Brother and Sister Associates and Members of the Order of Franciscan Hermits... HAPPY FEAST DAY!
St. Francis died on October 3, 1226, but we celebrate his Feast Day liturgically each year on October 4th. I am FILLED with the emotions of JOY and LOVE for him and I'm grateful for the example he gave us, but more especially this year, because YOU are part of our Franciscan Family!!!
You are such a WONDERFUL group of people who truly care about one another. We pray each day for our family and friends and share our struggles, sadness and JOY with one another and have come a long way to learn to focus on what UNITES us as Franciscans and Christians, rather than on what Divides us. Through this, we have not only learned about living the "Greatest Commandment... To LOVE... God... our Neighbors... Ourselves... Our Enemies," but have also witnessed Miracles in the lives of many people we have prayed for each day.
THANK YOU LORD for Hearing Our Prayers!
We have grown to 1,505 Associates and Members in over 37 Countries worldwide since our official start 15 months ago. That is an AMAZING accomplishment and is certainly a visible sign of the Holy Spirit working within our Community. Let us continue to pray for all of those who need our prayers and let us be living examples of Christ's LOVE to them, just as Francis was.
Each day we should spend some time enriching our Spiritual Lives by studying our Franciscan History, various prayer techniques and learning about the lives of the Saints as Ongoing Formation. A great place to start is our OFH Formation page at: http://Formation.FranciscanHermits.org. There you will find many inspiring books, videos, and articles.
I encourage you to "Meet Our Members" by visiting our OFH Directory. (Note: Associates are only listed in our Facebook Group). Perhaps there is someone who lives in your area that you would like to get to know and meet someday. Because we are so spread out, the web seems to be the most practical (and affordable) solution right now, but if you're interesting having a local fraternity, I encourage you to tell your friends in your church or Diocese about the OFH and invite them to Join Us (http://JoinUs.FranciscanHermits.org). From there you're welcome to meet one another either 1-on-1 or as a group, but this is NOT mandatory.
Will you join me in the "Peace Prayer" in honor of St. Francis, praying for World Peace?
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life."
Pax et Bonum Dear Brothers and Sisters... PEACE and GOODNESS...
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits.